Engaging with the younger generation in Far West NSW.
Mental health, food security, scarcity, and inflation are some of the many issues that have arisen from recent years, especially since the start of the pandemic.
Children are spending less time in the garden and in touch with nature compared to the generation of their parents. Some of the factors that contribute to this include the built-up urban environment they live in, their socio-economic status, parents’ attitude to outdoor activities, and the growing technological distractions that we are now surrounded by.
For some children that live in cities such as Broken Hill, it isn’t uncommon for some to have little interaction with forests, parks, or beaches.
Providing opportunity through education is one solution to engage the younger generation to spend more time outside and in the garden. A sense of ownership and responsibility, in a space of their own, creates an education platform to help keep them engaged and interested, especially if it provides an interaction platform away from the screen.
Through Western Landcare NSW facilitation, support of the Landcare NSW Working Together Program and TransGrid, we were able to work with Menindee Central School on planting and mulching while providing a platform for cultural heritage learning and garden building, maintenance and learning. This provided opportunity for students to engage and work together on important knowledge and life skills.
Teachers and students worked together on re-establishing a cultural garden creating a shared sense of ownership, addressing practical skills, incorporating native plants of Aboriginal cultural significance, and creating a hands-on learning activity reducing screen time. Developed skills and knowledge can be incorporated in a home or community environment, an important aspect of current education. Since the working bee, the teachers and students have shown more interest in expanding on other projects where they can work together in an educational environment outside of the classroom.
Support and funding from Landcare NSW and TransGrid has provided the opportunity to start this project. Being relatively inexpensive and achievable, means any school can do it. Creating a learning environment to facilitate the connection between human and nature provides a grass roots approach to potentially address future issues.